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“With Teach First we’re building the capacity in our schools.”

Hear how one school is thriving off the back of a partnership with Teach First

“With Teach First we’re building the capacity in our schools.”

Little Mead Primary Academy is one of four schools within the Endeavour Academy Trust, located across the South West. It’s been a Teach First partner school since 2014 and has recruited six Teach First trainee teachers. During that time they’ve seen the school come out of special measures and it’s now rated ‘Outstanding’.
 
We spoke to Barbara Daykin, CEO of the Endeavour Academy Trust and former headteacher at Little Mead Primary Academy about their partnership with Teach First:

When I became the headteacher at Little Mead it was very much a deprived community and over many years that has changed considerably. Our reputation now is very strong so we receive applications from families living further afield. 

This has changed the demographic slightly over the twelve years that I’ve been involved with Little Mead. The percentage of pupils entitled to the pupil premium has reduced, but not to a point where this is low. It’s still an area of quite high deprivation. There are subtle differences in terms of the community, so all the schools in the trust are slightly different in terms of the way they work with families, simply because of their different contexts.

We first heard about Teach First through some other schools in Bristol and I was keen to find out more, so I made some enquiries. I could see the Teach First way of working really suited the way that I like to work and decided to give it a go. We started with just two teachers and since then we’ve had quite a number of people come through.

I think the partnership only works if you’re prepared to commit to it fully as a school. The more that you put in, the more the school will get out. To give an example, Little Mead helps Teach First to run School Centred Learning*, which means we put in an awful lot of time, resource and energy to share our expertise with new trainees. But what we get back is the opportunity for those staff who were leading on it to really develop professionally; this supports the reputation of the school and of the Trust. Personally, I feel that the payback is quite significant."

Given the difficulty in recruiting good teachers, the chance to train them for yourself, along with other professional partners, Teach First is really valuable.

I also think the training provided through the Leadership Development Programme is very good and works well in partnership with the school. I think when the school gives everything to it and understands what’s needed for those participants to do well, then it creates a strong partnership. It comes from Teach First, it comes from the universities and it comes from the school, so you know there’s a superb structure of support there. Given the difficulty in recruiting good teachers, having the chance to train them for yourself alongside other professional partners means we’ve found Teach First really valuable.

When the school gives everything to it and understands what’s needed for those participants to do well, then it creates a strong partnership. It comes from Teach First, it comes from the universities and it comes from the school, so you know there’s a superb structure of support there.

The sign of a good school is being ambitious for your students and never believing that the limitations of their community are going to limit their life chances, because it’s our job to do something about that. School improvement is a tough job. It’s not going to happen overnight, but with Teach First we’re building the capacity in our schools to make sure we’re able to sustain it in the long-term.” 

School improvement is a tough job. It’s not going to happen overnight, but with Teach First we’re building the capacity in our schools to make sure we’re able to sustain it in the long-term. 

*School Centred Learning (SCL) refers to the initial training days that participants spend in a different school (separate from their school of employment). This represents our commitment to a school-led approach to Initial Teacher Training, as recommended by Ofsted and Estyn.

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